We’ve all experienced the chaotic and headache-ridden process of learning a new language. Whether you’ve logged hours crouched in a language lab, or if you’re a casual language app user, the fact remains that it’s indescribably difficult—and seldom entertaining. Enter foreign food films.

If you’re ready to take a break from conjugating irregular French verbs or deciphering Kanji, the following films and series will captivate your ears and leave you with an appreciation for foreign food films, and the languages that provide their foundations. PSA: Late-night snack runs will ensue.

#SpoonTip: The following list is composed of French and Japanese films, the languages I am currently studying. A comprehensive list can be found here!


Set in a tiny French town full of traditional people, Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche) begins life anew with her daughter, Anouk. After opening a controversial chocolaterie just as Lent begins, Vianne combats derision and persecution with her sinful chocolates and perceptive persona.

A whirlwind of romance, decadence, and chocolate, Chocolat will speak to all language learners and showcases the beauty of France in the late '50s.

The Birth of Saké

One of my favorite documentaries (currently on Netflix), The Birth of Saké is stunningly immersive, with incredible cinematography and a storyline to match. If you’ve ever enjoyed a warm cup of saké with sushi, you already know it’s an experience unlike any other.

This film shows the perseverance of a group of men in a Japanese brewery and the lengths they go to concoct the delicate, stimulating beverage that we all know and love.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Another Japanese documentary and a perfect accompaniment to The Birth of Saké, Jiro Dreams of Sushi follows the routine of Jiro Ono, owner of a three-star Michelin restaurant called Sukiyabashi.

This intimate glimpse of his committed lifestyle sheds a new light on sushi and its significance in today’s society. Fun fact: his restaurant only has 10 seats.

Samurai Gourmet

After seeing this in my recommended section on Netflix, I gave it a try and haven’t had a single regret. Samurai Gourmet is based on the manga by Masayuki Kusumi with a hilarious retiree, Takeshi, as the main character.

Each episode contains appearances of Takeshi’s inner Samurai (who’s typically drunk and/or boisterous), as well as traditional Japanese food that will leave you salivating.

Haute Cuisine

Hortense is a chef with a penchant for crafting exquisite meals based on her grandmother’s recipes. Her journey of achieving success in a male-dominated industry is inspiring. Haute Cuisine captures French food beautifully; a perfect depiction of extravagance, whether in a palatial setting or on an archipelago. 

So if you're constantly in a language learning rut, try watching these foreign films to work on colloquial language and vocabulary expansion. It's an easy way to practice a foreign language and experience another culture—all without leaving your couch.